Haitians Sue UN over Cholera Epidemic*
Some 1,500 Haitians have launched a lawsuit against the United Nations, seeking compensation for victims of a cholera outbreak in the Caribbean country, attributed to the UN forces.
The class-action lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in a federal court in Brooklyn borough of New York City, demands compensation for deaths and illnesses caused by the epidemic allegedly brought to the region by UN peacekeepers in 2010.
The action also calls for funding from the international body for sanitation and clean water in Haiti, which was devastated by the January 2010 earthquake.
According to scientific studies, the UN peacekeepers from Nepal, who were deployed to the country in the aftermath of the earthquake, introduced the disease into the impoverished nation.
The disease is estimated to have killed more than 8,000 people and sickened 600,000 others.
The UN, however, remains non-committal, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon citing diplomatic immunity.
Stanley Alpert, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said he is distressed by lack of regard for Haitian lives, adding the UN would likely not “cry immunity” in the case of similar incidents in Paris or New York City.
“Unfortunately, what the UN unleashed in Haiti was a devastating contagion. It was grossly negligent and utterly reckless to send in Nepalese peacekeepers and not test them for cholera,” he said.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhea and can lead to dehydration and death. It occurs in places with poor sanitation.